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Load Factors and Flight Maneuvers (Part Two)

in Aerodynamics

Chandelles and Lazy Eights

A chandelle is a maximum performance climbing turn beginning from approximately straight-and-level flight, and ending at the completion of a precise 180° of turn in a wings-level, nose-high attitude at the minimum controllable airspeed. In this flight maneuver, the aircraft is in a steep climbing turn and almost stalls to gain altitude while changing direction. A lazy eight derives its name from the manner in which the extended longitudinal axis of the aircraft is made to trace a flight pattern in the form of a figure “8” lying on its side. It would be difficult to make a definite statement concerning load factors in these maneuvers as both involve smooth, shallow dives and pull ups. The load factors incurred depend directly on the speed of the dives and the abruptness of the pull ups during these maneuvers.

Generally, the better the maneuver is performed, the less extreme the load factor induced. A chandelle or lazy eight in which the pull-up produces a load factor greater than 2 Gs will not result in as great a gain in altitude, and in low-powered aircraft it may result in a net loss of altitude.

The smoothest pull up possible, with a moderate load factor, delivers the greatest gain in altitude in a chandelle and results in a better overall performance in both chandelles and lazy eights. The recommended entry speed for these maneuvers is generally near the manufacturer’s design maneuvering speed which allows maximum development of load factors without exceeding the load limits.

Rough Air

All standard certificated aircraft are designed to withstand loads imposed by gusts of considerable intensity. Gust load factors increase with increasing airspeed, and the strength used for design purposes usually corresponds to the highest level flight speed. In extremely rough air, as in thunderstorms or frontal conditions, it is wise to reduce the speed to the design maneuvering speed. Regardless of the speed held, there may be gusts that can produce loads which exceed the load limits.

Each specific aircraft is designed with a specific G loading that can be imposed on the aircraft without causing structural damage. There are two types of load factors factored into aircraft design, limit load and ultimate load. The limit load is a force applied to an aircraft that causes a bending of the aircraft structure that does not return to the original shape. The ultimate load is the load factor applied to the aircraft beyond the limit load and at which point the aircraft material experiences structural failure (breakage). Load factors lower than the limit load can be sustained without compromising the integrity of the aircraft structure.

Speeds up to but not exceeding the maneuvering speed allows an aircraft to stall prior to experiencing an increase in load factor that would exceed the limit load of the aircraft.

Most AFM/POH now include turbulent air penetration information, which help today’s pilots safely fly aircraft capable of a wide range of speeds and altitudes. It is important for the pilot to remember that the maximum “never-exceed” placard dive speeds are determined for smooth air only. High speed dives or acrobatics involving speed above the known maneuvering speed should never be practiced in rough or turbulent air.

51UFncHi9pL._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_Learn more about airplane aerodynamics with the Illustrated Guide to Aerodynamics. This unique introductory guide, which sold more than 20,000 copies in its first edition, proves that the principles of flight can be easy to understand, even fascinating, to pilots and technicians who want to know how and why an aircraft behaves as it does.


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